Designing an Efficient Modular Drawer Storage Cabinet Layout

In this article we are going to go through the steps required to design the most efficient modular drawer storage cabinet for you application.  By following these steps,  you will maximize the storage capacity of your cabinet. Although we focus here on cabinets, the same procedure would work for drawers installed in shelving units. However the maximum height of drawers in a typical shelving application will be 48″ high.

We work with Rousseau Metal products that are made in North America and all Rousseau Modular Drawer Cabinets and Drawers-in-Shelving use Standard North American Dimensions.

1. Determine the Cabinet Height & type of Base.
Common Height Options (other heights are available):
28”-Desk Height/34” or 30”-Bench Height/44” or 38”-Counter Height/58”-Eye Level

Available Heights Crop

Common Base Options (add to the overall cabinet height):
The standard base is a 2” high forklift-able base; raises the overall cabinet height by 2”.
Optional 4” high base, accessible by pallet jack, raises the overall cabinet height by 4”.
The cabinet can also be ordered without a base if vertical clearance is limited.

2. Decide on the Width and Depth of the cabinet
Available Widths: 24”, 30”, 36”, 42”, 48”, 60”
Available Depths: 18”, 21”, 24”, 27”
The most common sizes are 36″ or 48” wide x 24″ deep, as these sizes will match standard North American shelving sizes.
Another common size is 30” wide x 27” deep; a close match to some metric measured cabinets.

3. Determine the best Drawer Heights for your products.
Available Drawer Face Heights: 3” to 10”, 12”, 14” and Pull-Out Flat Shelves (3” base height).  All drawers have a 400# capacity with full extension, 100% of the drawer interior will be visible.Drawers

The space available for drawers in a cabinet is 4” LESS than the Cabinet Height you chose.
So, a 58” eye-level cabinet would have 54” of usable space for drawers, a 30” bench height cabinet will have 26” available. You can install any combination of drawer heights that makes up the available space.
The Usable Height inside each drawer is 1” LESS than the Face dimension of the drawer.
Try to match the Usable Drawer Height, as closely as possible, to the products being stored.  Usually this involves a full review of your products, including sizes and quantities of the items to be stored in the drawers.

4. Decide which (if any) Insert Options you want in each drawer.
Internal Drawer Configurations can include Partitions (front to back, fixed) and Dividers (left to right, adjustable), removable Bin Cups designed to fit the drawer exactly, Groove Trays for long, thin items, PVC Drawer Liners, or Foam Inserts for protection or for tool cut-outs.

Compartments 1Compartments 2Compartments 4Compartments 3

You can have different layouts in each drawer. Drawer compartment layouts are specific to each drawer size. Obtain the drawer compartment layout sheet for the cabinet size you have chosen.
For smaller fasteners and parts, we recommend bin cups in some of the 3” or 4” face drawers, rather than partitions and dividers, as they are easier to pick from and can be removed for use at a work station, or for ease in sorting or counting of parts.

5. Let us know your choices (or call us for help with your layout) and we will get you a price, usually the same day.

Phone: 401-383-0883      Fax: 401-354-6610  

Email: support@innovostorage.com

Want this information on a one-page PDF file?  

Click Here: Designing a Drawer Cabinet

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Running Out of Room? Option 1

Gettting ‘Small Part’ Specific

Are you storing an increasing number of small parts and getting squeezed for space? This is the first in a series of articles to help you create space in your existing area. This post will focus on areas that use standard steel shelving to store parts, either in plastic bins, cardboard boxes or loose on the shelf.

Usually, when you look at your shelving, you see a lot of ‘air’ above the parts and in half-filled bins or boxes. You may also see parts hidden behind other parts and areas of the shelving where it is hard to see exactly what is there. The left side of the image below shows:  (1) Hidden areas that are hard to see, (2) Poor lighting at the back of shelves, (3) Shelves blocking full visibility of products, (4) Unused, wasted space between shelves.

Shelving vs Drawers Cropped

You can gain space and, at the same time, make it easier to find and identify your parts by using drawers in your existing shelving units. Converting your existing shelving into modular drawer storage units saves space and increases storage capacity. You will also have better access to smaller parts, better visibility, easier picking and faster inventory counts.

This is accomplished using drawer adapter brackets, manufactured by Rousseau Metal. These brackets are available to fit most shelving brands and allow installation of the full line of heavy duty modular parts drawers manufactured by Rousseau.

The Rousseau modular drawers are available in true North American dimensions to match existing shelf sizes, from 18” to 24” deep and 30” to 48” wide. There are 10 drawer heights available from 3” to 14” high with the usable inside height being 1” less than the face dimension. The adapter brackets to support the drawers are available from 18” high to 48” high and you can install any combination of drawer heights that will match the bracket height.

In a typical application, you would install a 36” to 48″ high group of drawers in an existing shelving unit. This set of drawers can be customized to suit your products.  The most common application will have a set 7 drawers with heights from 4” to 8” high.  All the drawers have full extension, so the full depth of the drawer is visible when open. These 7 drawers can replace the space taken by up to 3 shelving units, 36″ w x 12″ deep, in most systems.

Space Savings 5 to 2

So, by moving smaller parts into these drawers, you can recover several shelves worth of space in another unit. This creates the space to add another bank of drawers in the empty unit. Moving along this way, unit by unit, you can move inventory into more efficient drawer storage, leaving empty units left over at the end for new products.

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Running Out of Room? The Basics.

So, you are running out of space… What do you do now?
The first thoughts are often to find more space somewhere outside your existing building. You can consider options such as: Putting on an addition to your existing building; Relocating to a larger facility; Using a logistics or fulfillment company to outsource a part of your operation to another location. All are reasonable options and one may be the best alternative for you. However, you should always evaluate the simplest and easiest option first.

You should FIRST look at optimizing your existing space.
There are very few warehouses, stockrooms and manufacturing facilities that are using their space to maximum efficiency and there are a few basic ideas that you can review quickly to see if there opportunities within your own facility to ‘find’ space that is not being used. It may look bad at first, but there are ways to find space in almost any building.

Too Much Stuff

Here are a few of the basic ways to reclaim storage space:

1. Discard or Sell Off Obsolete Inventory
Look at your slowest moving items and compare the profit generated from sales or use of these items to the cost of acquiring new storage space to keep them. Ask yourself if you would you build, buy or rent new space just for these items? If the answer is , “No,” consider selling these items at a discount or just disposing of them.

2. Review Your Stock Level Policies
Purchasing policies should be examined for opportunities to reduce on hand inventory by: reducing overstock levels; making smaller but more frequent purchases; or using vendor monitored just-in-time stock level programs.

3. Consider Upgrading Inventory and Order Picking Software Systems
Newer software systems allow you store items in the most efficient manner, with similar sized items stored together, rather than using a strict numerical sequencing of products or category grouping. This allows you to maximize space utilization and have the software supply product location information and efficient order picking routes.

4. Look for Air Space Above Existing Operations
In many facilities there is unused space in the areas above stock room shelving, pick rack modules, assembly and packing areas, shipping and receiving docks, etc. Installing a mezzanine over these areas or extending the existing racks to higher levels can add significant usable space to your facility.

5. Review your Storage Equipment and Systems
The overall goal would be to increase storage density by looking for alternative storage options such as: closer shelf spacing; smaller bin storage sizes; converting from conventional shelving to drawer cabinets or drawers in shelving; using product specific racking for special items, etc.

In the upcoming posts, I will look at some of these ideas in more detail and offer specific ideas to help you create space where none seemed to exist before.

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Efficient Small Parts Storage – Part II

So, you have decided to opt for maximum space utilization by organizing and storing your parts or inventory items by size, rather than in numerical order. This will allow you to customize the shelf spacing and modular drawer size for each group of components. But now, you think it may be harder to find items than it was when they were in straight number order. Well, let me help with some ideas that may actually decrease the time to find items.

First of all, we should all be using computers to help us track our inventory. There are many off the shelf inventory tracking programs that allow you to record item number, type, vendor, cost, stock levels and, most important for our purpose here, storage location. A simple data base could be created to serve the same purpose or even a spreadsheet with the key pieces of information. Once entered, the information in a spreadsheet can be sorted by part number, enabling you to look up the location of any part on screen or on a printout.

Beyond using the computer, there are other ways to organize your components to minimize search time in your stock area.

  1. If you can obtain an analysis of the fastest moving items (your Top 20%), those can be moved to the most convenient location for picking. These typically make up 80% of the active picks and you can reduce search time considerably.
  2. You can group items by type, making it easier for workers to find items that way. Shelving can be labeled or color coded to indicate the type of product. In modular drawer systems, each group of drawers can be labeled or coded by type, as well as each individual drawer.
  3. Instead of organizing strictly by type, you can group by size and then type. For example, storing a group of bolts that can range from #6 (very tiny) to 1″ diameter (very big) in the same drawer or on the same shelf makes sense logically, but not with respect to space efficiency. Storing all #6 bolts, nuts, washers and lock washers together will be the most efficient use of space.
  4. The use of Drawers-in-Shelving can increase the number of items that can be stored in the same amount of space. More items in less space means less walking and less searching to find the right item.

Floor-Space-Gained

Keep in mind that every business operation is unique. These general guidelines can help you get started, but I encourage you to engage the people who will actually be working in this area to provide new ideas and feedback on suggestions. Having everyone fully backing a new system will ensure a smoother implementation.

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Efficient Small Parts Storage – Part I

How are your items arranged in your stockroom or warehouse? If you have a typical arrangement, everything is arranged in order, by part number. So, it’s easy to find everything,  right?

That’s great in the beginning, but as you add new items, increasing the number of items you store, and add new items that are ‘between’ two existing item numbers, then you begin to run out of room and things start to get a little messy.

Take a look at your shelving storage area now.

If you use bins for storage of small items, look inside the bins. Do you see a lot of space in the bins? Do you see a lot of space above the bins or boxed items before the next shelf starts? Do you have larger and smaller items next to each other on the same shelf? These are all signs that you can save space and increase efficiency in your storage area.

Efficient-Space-Drawing-STD

Storing parts by size, rather than in part number order, will maximize space utilization. Yes, I hear you… “But we’ve been doing it this way for years. How will anyone find anything if we change the order?” Trust me, there are ways to reorganize that will recover unused space and will still provide simple location of needed items.

Efficient parts storage begins with analyzing your product mix by size. Once you have an idea of what are small, medium, and large items (whatever that means in your business), you can begin to design a layout that will work more efficiently. Grouping small items in modular drawers or on tightly spaced shelves will save an enormous amount of space. This will leave space for more of the larger items grouped on shelves spaced further apart.

Efficient-Space-Drawing-DRWRS

For ideas on how to keep track of all these changed locations and find your products easily, check out the second post in this series.

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Mezzanine Doubles Your Storage Space – Part II

If you are planning for a small parts storage mezzanine in the future, here are a few easy and low cost steps you can take now to minimize the extra costs and impact to your operations in the future.

Shelving and rack supported mezzanines are often installed in two phases. The lower level is installed first, with the anticipation of expanding upward to a second level as storage, order picking, or manufacturing needs grow. It is very important to design your shelving or rack layout initially with the future mezzanine capability in mind. You can avoid major safety concerns and extra installation costs if this is done correctly in the beginning. Most of these concerns will apply to both the deck-over and the shelving-up-through options

Mezz

The first consideration is capacity. A shelving or rack system may be adequate for a single level system, but when a second level of storage is added, the upright post or frame capacities may not be sufficient to support the load on the second level. This can be addressed in two ways. First, ensure that the posts or uprights you install on the lower level, and the factory recommended sway bracing, will be adequate for the capacities you need when the second level is added. Second, the spaces between the rack or shelf levels will affect the capacity of the uprights: the closer the shelf spacing, the higher the capacity of the uprights. So, ensure that shelf spacing used on the lower levels is close enough to guarantee the required capacity or plan to add these levels when the mezzanine is added in the future.

The next concern comes extending the upright posts or frames to accommodate the second level. The second level posts are usually joined to the lower level posts with a factory approved splice kit. However, for strength and bracing reasons, the splice is not allowed below the floor level. So, if you installed 7’ high shelving, you will have to remove the top shelf, install the splice and effectively reduce your storage capacity on the lower level. To avoid this situation, you can install higher posts than you need during the initial lower level installation. Then, when the time comes to install the second level, there is free post extending beyond your top shelf where the splice can be installed. The second floor can then be installed below the splice without affecting any of the existing shelves on the lower level. This option can be used with bulk rack, shelving or rivet rack applications.

The last two problems you can avoid with a little planning are: floor anchoring and aisle spacing. Shelving supported mezzanines require the lower level posts to be lagged into the floor. This is very difficult to do after the shelving has been installed, usually requiring the emptying and removal of all the lower shelves to get access to the post bases. (Hopefully, those posts have floor shoes already installed to accept the floor anchors.) Then those lower shelves are re-installed and reloaded. This represents a significant investment in time and money. So, for a small additional cost per unit, you can install floor anchors in all the shelving units on the lower level in the first installation and avoid the higher cost later.

The last recommendation is simply to install row ties at the top of all the shelving units on the lower level. Over time, usage from loading & unloading and the occasional ‘bump’ from a cart or truck may cause shelving rows to become misaligned. Installing row ties ensures that all the rows are straight and none of the individual units are out of alignment. It also maintains a consistent spacing between the shelving units. Then, the flooring for the second level can be sized to easily fit in each row and no expensive custom cutting or fitting will be required during the installation process.

APP_2ls_MAN_02

So, if a mezzanine is in your future, take these few simple and inexpensive steps now to ensure a smooth and cost efficient transition to a two-level storage system in the future.

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Mezzanine Doubles Your Storage Space – Part I

Mezzanine (Multi-Level) Storage Systems can be an effective way to utilize all the available vertical space in your building. However, even if you don’t need one now, a little evaluation, planning, and a small expense up front, can save you time & money in the future. First, we will discuss the most common type of mezzanine support structure used for small parts storage: a Shelving Supported Mezzanine. Then, in my next post, we examine how to effectively plan for a mezzanine in the future.

Shelving supported mezzanines use standard steel shelving or standard bulk racking to support the second level. The rack or shelving can stop at the deck height to provide a clear, open second floor or continue up through the floor level, to provide storage units on the second level, mirroring the layout on the first floor (see photo below). In the latter case, only the aisles will have the floor decking. Recommended sway bracing and shelf spacing are required in the units on the lower level for strength and stability. So, the lower level is always used for parts or small carton storage. Railings will be required on the mezzanine, around stairways, open areas and at the ends of aisles on the upper level.

Shelving Mezz S

Why would you want to think about a mezzanine before you need one? The answer (as it often is in the business world) is Money! Installing a mezzanine in an existing facility with on-going manufacturing, order picking and storage operations is time consuming, possibly dangerous, and definitely more costly.

So, if you are planning for a mezzanine in the future, there are a few easy and low cost steps you can take now to minimize the extra costs and impact to your operations in the future. Check my next posting for everything you need to know, before you start building on the ground floor!

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Inspect Your Storage Equipment Yearly

This New Year is the time to resolve to have a safe and efficient storage area. One aspect of safety in your facility is equipment inspections. It is important for you to inspect your storage shelving and racks every year for damage. Even minor damage to uprights or shelves can seriously weaken their storage capacity.

The easiest way to conduct an inspection is to have a form with all your bin or rack locations printed on it. Then you can walk your stockroom or warehouse and note any damage by location code.

 Storage Rack & Shelving Inspections should include the following items:

Plumb & Level:  All rack stability depends on the rack uprights being installed in a plumb vertical position and the cross beams & shelves being level. Note any evidence of racks being crooked, out of alignment in the row, or leaning from vertical in any direction. You may need to install or repair sway bracing on those units.

Rust & Corrosion:  Note any areas of rust, flaking paint, or corrosion on the rack uprights or beams. This may indicate a weakening of the metal in that area. Be extra careful with inspections in damp areas or where flooding has occurred.

Upright Column Damage:  Check horizontal and diagonal braces for bending or damage. Check footplates and floor lags for secure attachment to floor. Note any upright posts that are twisted, dented, punctured, or buckled. Damage to the upright column can significantly reduce the capacity of that entire section of racking. Damaged uprights should be repaired or replaced.

Overloaded Beams & Uprights:  This can be a difficult issue. Most storage shelving and racks are not marked with capacities for the uprights or beams. This can lead to overloading as your product mix changes or racks are reassigned for use in a different application.

Note any shelves that are deflecting (bowing) in the center or have a permanent kink in the front edge of the shelf. If the shelf does not return to a straight and level condition after unloading the shelf, it should be replaced.

Check the beams in and any rack sections for deflection. The deflection should not be more than 1/180 of the length of the beam. That is about 1/2” deflection for an 8’ long beam at the maximum load. In addition, the beam should return to a straight condition with no deflection when the load is removed. If it does not, then the beam has been permanently deflected by previous overloading and should be replaced.

Inspect the beam connections where they attach to the upright frame. Note any impact damage to the face of the beam, cracked or broken welds on the beam clip, or distortion or damage to the holes in the upright frame where the beam attaches. Replace any damaged components.

Missing Safety Pins, Clips or Bolts:  Shelving and Racks use a wide variety of connection methods. Some shelves and beams bolt in place, some clip into the upright, some have the beam attach to a clip that hooks into the upright and some use a combination of clips and bolts. You should know the recommended attachment method for your brand or brands of storage shelving and rack. Ensure that all beams are securely fastened into the upright.

On bulk racking, in addition to the main beam attachment, there should be a safety pin, clip or bolt that prevents the beam from being accidentally dislodged from its connection to the upright frame. Note any missing nuts or bolts on rack connections and check to be sure all nuts and bolts are securely fastened. Note any beams where the safety pin or clip is missing or damaged. Missing or damaged hardware should be replaced immediately.

In addition to the items listed above for regular inspection, there are some general safety measures that can be employed to supplement the regular inspections and increase overall safety in your facility.

General Safety Procedures to be implemented along with regular inspections.

Employee Awareness:  All employees working with and around the storage equipment should be made aware of the potential problems listed above and notify their supervisor if they discover an unsafe condition.

Posted Capacities:  Post the shelf capacities for all areas in your system. This will help avoid overloading the shelf levels. Post the upright frame capacity for the rack system. The total of all the shelf capacities in a section should not exceed the rated capacity of the upright frame. Be advised that the total upright post or frame capacity is not a fixed number and varies with the spacing of the shelf levels. Upright capacity decreases as the vertical space between the shelf levels increases. In other words, the closer your shelf levels, the closer you get to the maximum capacity of the upright frame; the greater the space between your beam levels, the more the upright frame capacity is reduced from the maximum capacity.

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